June 11, 2008
By David Driver
For the Stafford County Sun
Used with permission
STAFFORD — Gregg Ritchie of Stafford spent 10 years as a minor-league hitting coach with the Chicago White Sox and worked with several future major-league hitters.
One of them was Joe Crede, who hit two homers in a game for Chicago on both June 6 and 7.
But the most satisfying moment for Ritchie came when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. Ritchie helped develop some of the Chicago hitters in the minors who aided the White Sox title.
Winning the World Series that year; that was obviously a proud moment,” said Ritchie, a 1982 North Stafford High School graduate. “I was able to work with some of those guys. It was definitely a proud moment.”
After that season, however, Ritchie took a new job as the minor-league hitting instructor for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Ritchie interviewed for the major-league hitting job with the Pirates (now held by Don Long). Ritchie was also in line to be the hitting coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks in November 2004 under manager Wally Backman, but Backman was fired just a few days after he was named to the post due to legal and financial problems, according to espn.com.
Does Ritchie want to one day be a major-league hittin g coach?
“Absolutely,” he said.
He now travels throughout the farm system of the Pirates, checking on and refining the techniques of young hitters at such locales as Hickory, N.C. of the low Class A South Atlantic League to Lynchburg of the high Class A Carolina League to Altoona, Pa. of the Class AA Eastern League to Indianapolis of the Class AAA International League. Ritchie also monitors the progress of hitters in the Dominican and Venezuelan leagues.
Ritchie, whose baseball number 17 was retired recently by North Stafford High School, was in Woodbridge in late May to see Lynchburg play the Potomac Nationals. He returned June 8 to his home in Stafford after several days in Pittsburgh.
“I am learning every single day and having a good time with it,” he said. “As long as you are passionate about what you are doing and keep that work ethic going and developing that pride…that is what it is all about. I am a workaholic. I demand a lot out of myself.”
Ritchie played baseball, football and basketball at North Stafford. He then played baseball four years at George Washington University and ended his career there in 1986. He played pro baseball for 10 years, including a stint with the San Francisco Giants from 1986 to 1992. He also played in the Mexican League, in the Texas Rangers system and in Taiwan in 1995.
He led the California League in runs with 118 while play ing for San Jose in 1986 and he was a Midwest League all-star in 1987 when he hit .337 with 41 steals with Clinton. Ritchie hit .282 with 14 homers, 248 RBI and 187 steals in 755 minor league games.
He spent 10 years as a hitting coach in the Chicago White Sox system before joining the Pirates. Most of his time with the White Sox was spent as the hitting coach with Birmingham of the Class AA Southern League.
He was born in Washington in 1964. He lives in Stafford with his wife, Kelly, and four children.
Ritchie runs his own baseball school, The Starting Lineup, in the off-season. He owns KaeLo (named for his first two children) Sports, Inc., where he writes baseball instruction manuals and invents products for young players. He has patents on instructional items called “The Heater’s Seat” and “The Pitch.”
Ritchie hopes to work soon with Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates’ second pick out of Vanderbilt University in the amateur free agent draft June 5. Alvarez tied a school record with 49 career homers.
“My job is to help each and every player reach his potential ,” Ritchie said.